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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Alzheimer's Disease Stages

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Moderate Alzheimer's

This is the longest stage of Alzheimer's. It can last many years -- it’s different from person to person. As your Alzheimer's evolves, your memory will get worse. You'll have more trouble with language and thinking clearly. You may:

  • Not always know family and friends
  • Lose track of the day of the week or where you are
  • Forget details in your life, like your address, phone number, or where you went to high school or college
  • Have trouble putting clothes on in the right order or picking the right clothes, and later bathing and using the toilet
  • Jumble words
  • Have poor judgment about your health, finances, or safety

Your personality may also change during this stage. You may:

  • See or hear things that aren't there
  • Suspect people of lying, cheating, or stealing from you
  • Be depressed or anxious
  • Become angry or violent

When your Alzheimer's is moderate, you'll probably need to live with family or in a residential care setting, or have a trained caregiver in your home. You may need help to get dressed, take your medicines safely, and manage your finances. It may be unsafe for you to use the kitchen and be alone. Your doctor may change your current medication and suggest drug or non-drug ways to deal with personality changes.

Severe Alzheimer's

In late-stage Alzheimer's, you may no longer be aware of where you are or remember your life history. Your physical abilities are also affected, and you may not be able to carry out simple tasks. You may:

  • Be unable to speak more than a half dozen words
  • Need help walking and later be unable to sit up, smile, or hold up your head
  • Have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder
  • Wander and get lost
  • Know familiar faces but have trouble remembering their names
  • Have more personality changes
  • Have habits like wringing your hands or shredding tissues

When Alzheimer's is most severe, your brain seems unable to tell your body what to do. You may sit on the toilet, forgetting what to do there, or hold food in your mouth, not remembering how to swallow.  As your body shuts down, you may spend most or all of your time in bed.

When your Alzheimer's is severe, you will need a great deal of help with daily activities and personal care. In order to get the care you need, you may need to live in an Alzheimer's care setting. Hospice care can keep you comfortable in the final months of the disease.

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